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It will be turned into an energy efficient demonstration home, that could be sold after a few years. The rest of the City-owned parcel of land will eventually be developed into a sustainable neighbourhood, but is currently zoned for Agriculture. The lot the Passivhaus will be built on is now zoned as Single Detached Residential and subdivided into six lots for single detached dwellings.

However, the decision didn’t come without concern. At last night’s public hearing on the matter, Connie Surerus, who was involved in the house’s design and sat on the working committee for the land, expressed her concerns about the timing and location.

“I just wonder, why suddenly now are we doing this Passivhaus, when there are lots within the city, right down in the downtown core, that could probably be utilized.”

Surerus’ questions were also echoed by Theresa Mucci-Rodgers, who submitted a letter to Council, worried that the city is moving quickly to develop city owned land, instead of other vacant land in city limits. She points out how at a recent council meeting it was brought to the City’s attention that there are a number of properties in the downtown core that cannot be developed as they don’t conform to zoning requirements.

“Would it not make more sense to look at developing a project like the Passivhaus on a lot with the current infrastructure of the city in place?” she writes. “Once the in-fill issues within the existing city limits are dealt with, then the development of the remaining acreage north and east of the hospital site could be considered.”

City Manager Dianne Hunter, acting as the proponent, says that the house could go on a downtown lot, provided it has southern exposure to the sun, and that many discussions to that effect have occurred. However, the decision came down to the City’s ownership of the land.

“What ruled in favour of this parcel of land, versus perhaps another parcel of land in the downtown area really rests solely on the fact that we own this land, where we don’t own parcels downtown,” she says. “If we had a lot available to us, that would probably have been our preferred option.”

She adds that the City feels the principals of the house are in line with the proposed sustainable neighborhood that will be built in that area, and that developers often prefer to work on a fresh parcel of land.

Currently there is no specific timeline for the building of the Passivhaus, but it’s expected to be finished by 2015.

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